Ben Smith Air France-KLM plans sales and efficiency drive to lift profit

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PARIS/HELSINKI (Reuters) – Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA) will combine a sales drive with efficiencies including better fleet management to lift profit margins to 7-8% over the medium term, the airline group’s Chief Executive Ben Smith told investors on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: An Air France Airbus A330-200 airplane lands at the Charles-de-Gaulle airport in Roissy, near Paris, France, August 26, 2018. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/File Photo

“The Air France-KLM group has all the assets to regain its leadership position,” Smith said in a company statement ahead of his first major strategy presentation since joining from Air Canada last year.

After a wave of 2018 strikes that grounded flights and cost 335 million euros ($373 million), the Franco-Dutch group has stabilized under Smith’s leadership thanks to union deals that have pushed up wage costs but increased operating flexibility.

Air France’s operating mar

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